State ethics officials have formally censured former Pleasantville school board President Doris Graves for a 2010 incident in which she ordered the then superintendent to allow a student who was a possible shooting target to attend graduation.
The New Jersey School Ethics Commission also dismissed complaints filed in 2012 by board members Johnny McClellan and Connie Graham against fellow members Darleen Bey-Blocker and Joanne Famularo, saying the complainants had not proven their case.
The censure is part of an agreement reached between Graves and the commission. As part of the agreement, Graves admitted that she was aware that then-Superintendent Gloria Grantham had barred two graduating seniors from participating in graduation ceremonies on June 29, 2010 due to safety concerns stemming from a report by the Pleasantville Police Department.
Graves said in her statement that she was aware that Grantham based her decision on information from the police that the two seniors may be the targets of a possible shooting planned for that day. She admitted she still called Grantham and instructed her to allow one of the two seniors to participate in the ceremony.
That call violated the School Ethics Act, which prohibits a school board member from using his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages.
The day after the ceremony a shooting occurred in Pleasantville that resulted in a bystander being hit. Graves said it is her understanding that the actual target of that shooting was the student she had instructed Grantham to allow to participate in the graduation ceremonies. According to an article in The Press of Atlantic City archives, the June 30 shooting involved the drivers of two cars shooting at each other at two different locations on Park Avenue.
The names of the students were not included in the decision.
Pleasantville had an outbreak of gun violence in 2010, including 30 incidents of shots being fired between January and June, and 14 people being shot according to articles in The Press. On June 9, a 16-year-old boy was shot four times as he walked along West Reading Avenue, about a half-mile from the high school.
The Ethics Commission agreement was reached June 24, then sent to district officials who were required to read it aloud at a board meeting and post it publicly for 30 days. It was read into the public record at the Aug. 13 Pleasantville Board of Education meeting.
Graves was voted out of office last year, but is running again in November. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
In July 2008 Graves was also censured by the Ethics Commission for violating the School Ethics Acts when she spoke with the district facilities coordinator and later attended a board personnel meeting regarding an issue with an employee who was related to her by marriage.
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